Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Sweet the Sound

Healing Strings Provide a Soothing Melody

Ten years ago, Debbie Doyle woke up in her hospital room after having surgery and heard what she thought were the most peaceful and healing sounds coming from the hallway. A harpist was outside her hospital room door playing music for everyone on the recovery unit. A musician by trade and passion, Doyle decided that day that she wanted to touch patients in the hospital the same way.

Ten years later, Doyle is now fulfilling her goal of providing music therapy to hospital patients by volunteering every week at Sentara Potomac Hospital. After meeting Sentara Potomac Hospital Chaplain Carol Wille at a retreat, she and Wille launched ‘Healing Strings’.

“When Carol and I met at the retreat we began talking about my desire to provide music therapy at a hospital,” says Doyle. “As fate would have it, Carol had also seriously been thinking about starting a music program at Sentara Potomac, and the rest is history. I’m so glad that we were able to come together and start this program. I’ve been thinking about it for 10 years.”

A church choir director since 1978 and a school and private music teacher for the past 12 years, Doyle also sings, plays the piano, guitar, Native American flute and various other instruments. She began to learn the harp a few years ago in order to play soothing harp music for hospital patients.

“My passion has always been music ministry,” says Doyle. “Starting Healing Strings is another outlet for that passion. I love what music does for the heart and soul. One day I was playing on the Surgical Unit and all of a sudden a patient began singing the lyrics along with my harp. She had tears in her eyes and the patients and staff were so appreciative. That’s really what it’s all about – making people feel good through music.”

According to Chaplain Wille, patients aren’t the only ones enjoying Healing Strings.

“Debbie has received such a positive reception from everyone,” says Wille. “Hospital nurses and staff have stopped me and asked when ‘the harpist’ will be back. I’m thrilled that everyone looks forward to her visits --- we are accomplishing our goal of providing music therapy at Sentara Potomac. We are also hopeful that more people in our community with musical talents will consider being a volunteer with the Healing Strings program.”

Healing Strings Music Therapy is looking for more musically talented volunteers to join the program. If you’re interested in volunteering for this program, please contact Chaplain Carol Wille at 703-583-3003.